‘What We Do In The Shadows’ cuts teeth on mockumentary-style comedy

‘What We Do In The Shadows’ cuts teeth on mockumentary-style comedy

‘What We Do In The Shadows’ cuts teeth on mockumentary-style comedy
April 09
11:35 2019

What if classic vampires existed and were a real threat to our society, but behind the sharp teeth and dark cloaks, were actually incredibly lame?

With a simple and quirky plot, “What We Do In The Shadows,” the FX comedy series based off of the Taika Waititi-directed film of the same name, pulls off played-out comedy tropes using one of the most iconic horror figures in history.

“The Office” changed the mockumentary format from being a stylistic choice to becoming a standard for comedy series, from shows like “Modern Family” to “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” The typical, absurd antics go hand-in-hand with confessional-type interviews, and the formula has lost its novelty over the years. Though “What We Do In The Shadows” follows this mockumentary standard, the plot is more of a spoof of vampire films.

In the pilot, we are introduced to three vampires living in Staten Island. There’s Nandor, the head of the household, Lazlo, the younger of the bunch and Nadja, the “femme fatale” of the trio. They are often accompanied by Guillermo, the dorky familiar to Nandor, whose intense admiration for the moronic vampires somehow makes them even more lackluster.

The pilot follows a similar introduction as the film it is based on, though several details have changed. For one, the once New Zealand-set plot has been uprooted and placed in America, most likely due to a change in audience since the series had been picked up by FX Network. The addition of Nadja and Guillermo works better with the new cast. However, the biggest loss comes from the absence of Viago, by far the best character in the original film. The series is just a tad bit dull without Viago’s dopey but loveable personality.

The best new addition to the series is Colin Robinson, the balding, banal “energy vampire” who sucks the life out of humans by boring them with his ramblings. The vampire gang cannot stand him and often tries to exclude him in their plans, which any introvert with experience living in dorms with extroverts can relate to.

The original film, created by “Flight of The Conchords”-famed Jemaine Clement and directed by Waititi, still sits at a high rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 96 percent certified fresh since its 2015 debut. The series, with two episodes as of now, follows with a high percentage of a 94 percent certified fresh rating.

Though the cast has largely changed, Clement and Waititi still remain large behind-the-scenes figures, both acting as executive producers alongside Paul Simms as the head writer. Because the show takes a similar direction to the film, the series plot and humor remains consistent with the movie, so fans of the film will no doubt enjoy it just as much.

“What We Do In The Shadows” proves old tropes can still work despite being overplayed, and changing a plot to suit an American audience does not always come off as disingenuous. Because the characters are already caricature-like with over-the-top antics, it will be interesting to see how the writers flesh them out. Characters with one defining characteristic like being an “energy vampire” can get old quickly as a reoccurring bit, but so far, the audience is still biting into it.

Featured Image: What We Do in the Shadows. Courtesy Facebook.

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Christina Palomo

Christina Palomo

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